Concerts Concerts A Mildly Confusing, Yet Epic, Night With Phoenix

A Mildly Confusing, Yet Epic, Night With Phoenix

Phoenix at Ricoh Coliseum
Phoenix
Tokyo Police Club
Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, ON
October 22, 2010

Review by: Whitney Pineault
Photos by: Pete Nema

The last time Phoenix were in town they had just released the now critically acclaimed album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and easily sold out the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

Fast-forwarding to over a year later, the band have played just about every major festival and late night talk show possible, won a Grammy Award, and still remain on the road touring the album that caused all of this fuss in the first place. Now, facing a venue upgrade from theatre to arena, Phoenix had their work cut out for them in order to top last year's stellar performance.

Phoenix

As Phoenix took the stage, I couldn't help but notice a few completely empty sections around the venue, but this did not deter the band from delivering an inspired performance. With four studio albums under their belt, Phoenix had a multitude of material to choose from, but “Lisztomania”, the second single from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, received the honour of kicking off the set. From early on, their strong stage presence and infectious energy really impressed me. Midway through “Lasso”, vocalist Thomas Mars unhesitatingly got right up into the audience, which to the excitement of many, became a bit of a reoccurring theme throughout the night.

I would probably be willing to wager money that the fog machine operator fell asleep on the job since at times it was so thick that the band was actually difficult to make out. During “Girlfriend”, however, the fog helped to create a technicolour canvas of sorts as lights of all different shades reflected from the stage. This is about the time when things started to get a little strange. The band broke into an instrumental interlude and a massive white curtain lowered down, completely concealing the stage. I could barely make out the guitar player's silhouette, which I think was the purpose of the whole thing but to be honest, I was left really quite confused.

But all was not lost in translation; the curtain thankfully dropped and a dramatic light show and killer instrumental track followed with bass so powerful it felt like it was going to knock my heart out of rhythm. Clearly the band was trying to step up their game to accommodate the much larger crowd. A stunning array of red and white strobes flashed wildly during “Rome” which generated a truly brilliant scene. For their second round of confusion, Phoenix devised a sort of disappearing act that saw them essentially vanish from the stage while music continued to blare. We were all left looking around slightly puzzled and wondering, “was that the end?”

A few minutes went by before movement began to be visible on the floor. The crowd quickly migrated over to the soundboard where Phoenix had reappeared to play a few acoustic songs, including one in their native language (French). This was definitely a first for me. Unfortunately, I had a very limited view from where I was seated, but I do know that once again, Mars braved the crowd and sang amongst the fans while situated significantly farther away from the rest of the band. You have to give these guys props for not being afraid to think outside of the standard rock show format and get as close to their fans as possible.

For their final song, Phoenix gave the audience exactly what they had been waiting for. As soon as “1901” began, the entire venue completely went off. The atmosphere instantly transitioned from seemingly tame to utterly banana sandwich crazy — it was incredible. And just when everyone thought it was all over, Mars appeared on the floor one last time still bearing his mic with the cord ignited with red lights. This time, however, he climbed up into the stands and must have gotten about halfway to the top as he continued to sing, “fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it.” After making his way back down he proceeded to jump the barricade and crowd-surf all the way back to the stage to finish the song with the rest of the band. Yeah. How's that for an epic finish?

Info: Phoenix
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Video: Lisztomania

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Tokyo Police Club

Newmarket-based four-piece, Tokyo Police Club, gave a solid effort in warming up the crowd as fans steadily filed into the venue. Comprising of a great mix of new and old material, the band's set seemed to really ignite the audience as “Breakneck Speed” and “Wait Up (Boots Of Danger)” were performed back-to-back. My favourite part, however, was during Elephant Shell's “Your English Is Good” which saw keyboardist Graham Wright and guitarist Josh Hook tossing tambourines back and forth at each other mid-song from across the stage. The band just announced they will be playing a much overdue headlining show at the Kool Haus on January 15th, 2010 with Two Door Cinema Club. Did I mention we're giving away tickets?

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